Digital hospitality solutions can enable a safe, efficient, contactless guest experience as the industry navigates the post-pandemic world.
Thanks for joining us for this third blog in the series as we look at the hospitality industry in 2020 and beyond. If you missed the first two installments you can find them at:
• Resiliency prevails in hospitality in 2020 and beyond
• Hospitality 2020: A safer environment with improved security
As the world adjusts to post-pandemic realities, hotel guests want to feel safe and be safe, and at the same time they also want to make the most of their stay. As the hospitality industry reinvents itself, hoteliers are tasked with redesigning the guest journey by reducing human interactions to keep the virus at bay. Technology becomes essential as digital, contactless services take the place of face-to-face interactions. However, key to successfully introducing new technology is the goal of making guests’ lives easier in an unobtrusive way.
Today, most guests travel with several mobile devices such as a smartphone, tablet, and laptop. Hyper-connected guests who use their smartphone for day-to-day operations will welcome a hotel app that provides value. However, other guests who perhaps are not as comfortable with a state-of-the-art smartphone may not be as willing, or have the know-how, to install a new application. Whatever the guest's profile, hotels must be able to address everyone’s needs.
Before the stay: Increase booking opportunities
As the industry gets back on its feet, it’s anticipated that remote interactions during the customer decision phase will increase, with most interactions taking place online. This creates a perfect opportunity for hotels to re-launch websites and introduce mobile apps. Re-vitalizing the online presence to make it more appealing and interactive can help shorten the decision process and close more bookings earlier.
New technologies can help hoteliers attract guests. For example, a virtual tour based on augmented reality lets potential clients experience the hotel surroundings before they arrive. Once the customer’s attention is captured, they can easily and quickly interact with the hotel in just one click. With Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Rainbow™ APIs real-time communications such as chat, voice and video can easily be integrated into a hotel website or mobile app. As well, our partner QuickText, estimates that with their voice assistant—a natural language chatbot capable of autonomously answering common questions—hotels can increase direct online revenues by approximately 9%.
During the stay: A contactless, personalised guest experience
Traditionally, the first step in the guest stay is check-in. The image of people queuing in the lobby, exchanging documents with reception staff, and handling physical keys will become a thing of the past, or at least be significantly reduced. With online registration from a guest application contactless check-in will become the new norm.
Another alternative will be the introduction of self-registration kiosks in the lobby. Smart kiosks that integrate thermal imaging cameras, document scanning and facial recognition can make the entire registration procedure easier and safer and minimize human interaction. A small number of hotel staff will still be available for traditional check-in, or to assist guests with the self-service kiosks as required.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Digital Age Networking offers a number of technologies to enable these different check-in options. IoT enablement allows secure and automatic onboarding of kiosks, digital signage or scanners that need to connect to the network. Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess® Stellar Location-based Services (LBS) can detect when a guest with a reservation arrives at the hotel lobby. And, Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow Workflow can send a personalized welcome message, trigger an automatic check-in, download the digital key and guide the guest to the room.
The smart guestrooms, a trend that we explored in 2019, will help make guest stays more comfortable. Remote control room automation is increasingly interesting as we move toward a contactless environment, as it allows guests to control the lighting and room temperature without having to touch physical switches. The combination of remote room controls along with access and the ability to order hotel services in a single guest application is the ideal offering.
Today there are multi-platform solutions available that allow the deployment of eConcierge applications on various devices. For guests who are reluctant to use their own devices, an in-room tablet or an IPTV could provide a single point of control for the room and services.
Mobile apps create an even wider spectrum of possibilities for hotels to reduce personal contact with hotel staff while making services available to guests not only in the rooms, but in and around the venue. To make this all work smoothly, the hotel must provide superior, pervasive Wi-Fi to ensure that guests can use the hotel app anywhere to seamlessly get the information they need, request services or ask for help. With Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess Stellar WLAN, guests enjoy superior Wi-Fi service in the hotel, so they can access anything they need from anywhere, on any mobile device.
Additionally, with indoor location services hotel operators can provide contextual, dynamic and personalized notifications and offers to guests as they move throughout the property. Large resorts might consider implementing a people tracking service that would enable them to provide ubiquitous offerings, for example delivering drinks and food to where a guest is located, or a service for guests to stay informed about where other members of their group or family are in the facility. ALE LBS, supported by Rainbow Workflow, leverage OmniAccess Stellar WLAN infrastructure to provide these capabilities.
ALE also works together with a large ecosystem of hospitality solution providers. For example Tapendium, which integrates Rainbow voice into its in-room tablet application, enables hotels to eliminate room phones, and Hudini, whose multi-platform eConcierge solution can be installed on guests' mobile devices as well as on hotel tablets and IPTVs. These integrations enable seamless communication between guests and hotel staff, increase guest mobility and ultimately help build customer loyalty and satisfaction.
After the stay: See you soon
Finally, when leaving the hotel, interactions with staff should also be kept to a minimum. Express check-out is a common practice already widely available in many hotels and is sure to be more common going forward. With new technology hotels can offer express check-out from room devices or from the guest's mobile application. The process can be personalized with a customized farewell message when the guest leaves the hotel, including useful information for future stays, such as new discounts or other offers.
Similar to check-in, check-out capabilities are enables using ALE network infrastructure, including OmniAccess Stellar Wi-Fi, OmniAccess Stellar LBS, and Rainbow Workflow to deliver services to hotel guests.
Check out the final blog in this series where we take a deeper look at mobilizing the back-of-the-house (BOH) operations.